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The Influence of the Garner Decision on Police Use of Deadly Force

By Abraham Tennenbaum & Campaign Zero

Study: In March of 1985, the Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner held
that laws authorizing police use of deadly force to apprehend fleeing,
unarmed, non-violent felony suspects violate the Fourth Amendment,
and therefore states should eliminate them. This paper investigates the impact of that decision on the number of homicides committed by police officers nationwide. The
investigation shows a significant reduction (approximately sixteen
percent) between the number of homicides committed before, and
after the decision. This reduction was more significant in states which
declared their laws regarding police use of deadly force to be unconstitutional after the Garner decision.

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